On the heels of a new Cobra Commander taking the mantle, IDW gives us an annual dedicated to his origin. From his birth in the drug war ravaged Golden Triangle, to life on the run, and finally his eventful meeting with Major Bludd. It is this event that sets him on the course to becoming the new Commander, and probably one that Bludd now regrets.
Even though Dixon writes a very good origin story for Cobra’s new leader, I’m on the fence about whether or not it’s too soon. When the man who would be Commander was introduced, Dixon kept him a mystery. Only revealing that he was ruthlessly effective at killing Joes and didn’t trust his fellow Cobra agents. Now, with pretty much everything revealed, much of the mystery is gone in such a short time. Since I’m not one of those guys that needs to know everything up front, this was a bit unsettling. Only because a little bit of mystery when worked well into the story is a very good thing. What does work in the story’s favor is that in seeing the events that shaped the new Commander, it’s clearly evident that not only is he a bad ass, but he’s the type of leader you would expect for this organization. A far cry from the Commander that we were introduced to years ago that seemed more of a joke and not a leader of a terrorist organization. The origin story also reinforces the current Cobra Command event running through the three Joe titles now. One thing that is kept despite the many reveals is that no one knows what the Commander looks like. Events led to him wanting to change his looks, and that little bit of mystery is kept in line with the history of the Commander.
Gallant’s artwork does a fine job of moving the story whether we’re in the middle of a fire fight or a heated conversation between drug dealers and terrorists. The work was so good that it made one mistake stand out like a sore thumb during the run in with Major Bludd and other soldiers. It’s obvious that one of them is Storm Shadow, being that he’s wearing a white bandanna and has the white wraps on his forearms. However, in the next panel the wraps are gone and the Arishakage tattoo is visible. It’s not like it wasn’t already obvious who the character was, but the vanishing wraps just made it an annoying and forced reveal. I’ll also add that the new Cobra Commander design looks great and is reinforced by Robert Atkins’s awesome cover. There’s a nod to the original design, but with a very cool updated look and feel.
This origin issue turned out to be one of the best and necessary reads in the G.I. Joe mythos. Dixon gives us a Commander who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and feels more visceral and real than the used car salesman that rose to the ranks of Cobra years ago. Whether you’re a longtime fan from the eighties or a newer G.I. Joe fan, this issue will impress you. It is a clear example of the new direction this franchise is going in, and Dixon is bringing some of the best stories it’s seen in a while!